Monday, January 08, 2007

Artomatic Events – Bethesda

This January and February, a number of galleries in Bethesda, Maryland will host group exhibitions showcasing works they have selected from artists who responded to a call for entries by uploading their images to the Artomatic virtual gallery at

These Bethesda venues, with leadership from Catriona Fraser of Fraser Gallery, have worked with the Bethesda Urban Partnership's Arts and Entertainment District members and Artomatic to establish and implement this inaugural Artomatic Associated Events project.

Participating venues are: Creative Partners Gallery, Fraser Gallery, Gallery Neptune, Heineman Myers Contemporary Art, Joy of Motion Dance Center, Round House Theatre, Washington School of Photography/Capitol Arts Network, and The Writer’s Center.

In addition to these group exhibitions (which incorporate the work of 30 painters, printmakers, photographers and sculptors), the January and February events will also cover a vibrant range of performance offerings, including open dance rehearsals and free Salsa lessons, artist talks, "assembly line" portrait sittings, poetry readings, and live music sessions, as well as networking opportunities and portfolio workshops for Metro area creative professionals.

Artomatic Associated Events - Bethesda will kick off with an Artswalk and a variety of opening-related events on Friday, January 12th from 6 – 9 pm.

Further details on the roster of events throughout the month will be available at both and More information about the ArtsWalk may be found at this website.

Cudlin on Gopnikosities

My good friend Jeffry Cudlin, the award winning art critic for the Washington City Paper, offers an intelligent and readable counterpoint to my dissection of Blake Gopnik's comments on the Kate Kretz "Jollie as Madonna" painting.

Read Jeffry's good points here.

I think that the line between illustration and fine art is sometimes real and a lot of times blurred, and many times erased by history, and sometimes entire cultures could be wrong, otherwise we'd still be considering Ukiyo-e as illustrations and manuals, and packing materials for tea vases to be shipped to Europe.

We're both making exagerated claims in a sense... Duchampian followers have a great time spending time deciphering the many stories and angles and intricate issues in Velazquez's "Las Meninas," but the opposite and immediate reaction is delivered equally well and without much deciphering in Goya's "3rd of May."

Goya's Third of May

So the answer is that both can fit into our appreciation of art. And if it wasn't for Rockwell's "The Problem We All Live With," we'd have a very little footprint in contemporary 60's paintings of the Civil Rights struggle.

Norman Rockwell's The Problem we all live with

In some Rockwellian works like this one there's an example of an illustrator whose work crossed over and now - at least that piece and all the works from his civil rights imagery - crosses into fine art. It happened in the 1800s as well - Honore Daumier being the best-known example.

Gericault's Raft of the Medusa

Were Gericault's "Medusa" to be painted today - say with the subject being Abu Ghraib, would that be art or an illustration? Oh wait - it has been done - Botero has done it and it's considered important political art!

In my opinion, and of course I'm opinionated and not necessarily right, Cudlin and many other writers are sometimes too wrapped up in theory and often resistant to just open up and enjoy the possibility of the simplicity of art for the sense of "just because..."

When I first started exploring, creating and writing about art 30 years ago, I too was all wrapped up in theory, and straining to find the meaning, the struggle, the clues, the angst, and the message in all the art that I was seeing. Without a message, the art was useless, I had been taught; if it stands on the shoulders of another artist, it cannot be good.

Among many other events that slowly changed my appreciation of art, somewhere along the lines I stumbled across a book titled: Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siecle Culture.

And all of a sudden, the vapid, sickly sweet, saccharine Romantic art of the Victorians became a whole new world of clues, deciphering images that had secret meanings to the Victorians, etc.

It was a triumph for what Duchampians believe should be good in art. Yet it was a Duchampian triumph wrapped up in a visual eye candy that looked more like parlor room art than fine art; And it made me realize that both camps could be accepted.

And now I refuse to believe that art has to do this or do that, or delay our reactions, of give us clues, etc. in order to be accepted as high art. Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of hacks out there producing paintings that sometimes astonish in their vapidity and waste of canvas, but to take the galvanized, one-track train of thought that it's either a Duchampian success or it can't be real art, is a sure way to eliminate a lot of good art which simply may offer nothing but viewing pleasure.

Henri Matisse once said that "there is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted." I think most painters almost subconsciously do this. In painting anything, unless one is outright copying an existing work (as it is taught in many art schools to teach painting techniques), a good artist is always creating something new. Something that until that moment, when the loaded brush is applied to the canvas and allowed to deliver its content, has never been done in that exact stroke, or manner, or hue, or shape, in the entire history of mankind.

Take a look at the book... it's by Bram Dijkstra, who was a professor of English literature at the University of California.

Pat Goslee's Top 10 DC area art show

Talented DC area artist Pat Goslee is one of the area's most active artists and exhibits widely around the city. She says:

I don't have a top 10 list. I say the ultimate BEST show of 2006 was:

Swarm at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, 3 December 2005–18 March 2006.

The husband and wife curatorial team of Ellen Lupton and Abbott Miller embraced the theme of swarm in an exemplary fashion — presenting a global ecosystem of contemporary art. The BEST example I have EVER seen of a COMPLETE curatorial effort, Lupton and Miller executed every detail with intelligence and precision... down to the t shirt in the gift shop.
Pat Goslee at swarm
Pat at Swarm under the piece called Long Division by Siebren Versteeg - a digital program output to projection on floor